Negotiations: Choose Your Shared Adventure and Negotiate an Outcome
The point of this post is to negotiate a shared outcome for the purpose of growing love, respect, and connection with whom you are arguing with. If you are reading this to get the upper hand, to win or to make the other smaller in any way, this post is not for you. My coaching practice is all about building people up, fostering vulnerability, and making connections that enhance trust.
This article is based on the work of Fred Kofman, Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values.
“We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.” ― Steve Goodier
So how do we keep talking in a loving way when we are both not getting what we want? Here is how: We will explore how to change the format of disagreement. It starts with coming to the table to talk and listen to each other’s point of view. (Just a reminder, last week’s blog covered how to talk and listen).
Here are 8 steps to resolving conflict:
1. What’s Your Reason?
In every disagreement, there are two ideas. But behind each idea, there is the reason why we want to implement our own solution. That is where to focus. The reason is step one. For example: I want to buy a car. They do not. Reason: I do not feel the car is safe. They do not want to go into debt. The goal in this step is to find the real reason beyond the conflict. Buying the car is about safety and money. Once the reason is established go on to #2.
2. Brainstorm: How can we honor both safety and making a good financial decision?
Put everything on the table with the spirit of “Yes…and…” Make a list of all the ideas you can come up with that could honor both reasons of being safe and fiscally sound. Sell the car. Bike. Buy a smaller car that we can afford. Repair the car for safety. Buy a mule. Downsize. Move to the city and go by bus. The point is to not say “no” to any idea…no matter how absurd. A variety will emerge in the process. Welcome it all, this is not the time to limit. Once the list is made, move on to step 3.
3. Negotiate and Select
After making the list, which ideas sound good? As you discuss the options, new ideas might come up. Welcome them in as well. The process of discussing all the options will refine down to two outcomes: agree on what to do or not. If you agree, skip ahead to #6. If not, continue to step #4.
4. Come up with the Best Alternative to the Negotiated Agreement for each side
What is the worst case scenario you are willing to agree to? Each of you can come up with the outcome that is not ideal but tolerable. Do you agree on one of those? Run with it. No? Continue the adventure to step #5…
5. Someone has to give up their way
This is not easy. It might take time to think about and accept this. Be open, loving and caring in this step. The goal of this negotiation is to make the best decision that the both of you can live with for the good of the relationship. If both parties are willing to decide for the good of the relationship, then compassion, gratitude, and growth are possible. “I appreciate you giving in on this decision. I don’t take it lightly. I will be mindful of your way in future situations. Thank you for being generous about this.” And “I need some time to accept this decision. I know why you want it this way and that helps. I still see it my way, but I trust you to be choosing this for the good of our relationship. Let’s see how this goes.”
6. What you choose, commit to it together.
When you have reached a decision, discuss how you want to implement it. It is important to keep your commitment to the decision and coordinate the execution of that decision. How can you commit with integrity, respect, and compassion? You both are on the same team and your thoughts, words, and action must support that collaboration.
7. Evaluate and Learn: The Master Level (this is hard but sooo worth it)
Once you’ve made the decision, take some time to evaluate the conflict. Kofman asks, “How satisfied are you with the process? How much peace do you have now that the decision is made? What did we learn? How can we minimize this type of conflict in the future? How well did we behave in the negotiation? What could we have done to improve? How are our emotions now? Is there something we need to clear? How is our relationship? Is there something we need to clear?”
8. Last, but not least…Celebrate!
Take a moment to celebrate working as a team to come up with a solution that best fits your situation. When both parties are willing to negotiate with the intent to solve a problem that is a success! Wanting to communicate in a way that strengthens a relationship is a victory! Wishing well-being for the other while discussing what to decide is a triumph!
It takes flexibility to navigate these steps. It is hard to let go of a feeling of being right but well worth the effort to land on a solution that you both feel good about. Focusing on the needs involved offers new solutions and ways of solving the original problem. There is a reasonable air when the focus is explaining what the deeper need to a problem is. Most importantly, going through these steps with willingness and respect offers the relationship confidence and growth in the effort of doing it well.